Only 126 kilometres north of Vancouver, lies the popular four-season resort Whistler Village, Blackcomb Mountain, and Whistler Mountain, collectively called “Whistler”. This popular destination has been rated the number one ski resort in North America by both Snow Magazine and Ski Magazine (alternating, it seems, with the Vail resort in Colorado) and in winter the population jumps from 12,000 to 35,000. It’s a Two hour drive on the winding up-and-down #99 Sea to Sky Highway, and the village is 675 metres (2,214 feet) above sea level.
The town has two mountains developed for skiing, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain which operate as one resort. On Blackcomb, the lifts can take you to 2284 metres (7,494 feet), and you can ski on 8,171 acres (33 km²) of terrain and 200 runs all serviced by 24 major lifts. The vertical drop is 1609 metres (which converts to 5,280 feet, or one vertical mile) which is the most of any ski resort in North America. Whistler Blackcomb has a ski-able area 50% larger than that of Vail, to be the largest ski area in North America. Blackcomb’s glacier enables summer skiing from June until August.
The town of Whistler hosted several events for the 2010 Winter Games, including the men’s and women’s slalom and GS, and the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton events. The downhill events and sliding events will be held on the Whistler Blackcomb mountain, and the ski jumping and Nordic (cross country, biathlon, and Nordic combined) events will be held in a newly built facility in an adjoining valley.
Whistler Mountain opened for skiing in February, 1966, and after the Sea-to-Sky Highway was paved in 1969 the resort’s popularity increased. As the number of visitors grew, the town’s accommodation expanded, and in 1975 the village of Alta Lake was incorporated into the Resort Municipality of Whistler in 1975. The municipality began the construction of Whistler Village, which opened in 1980. Around that time the mountain added three triple chairlifts that lift skiers to the top in 45 minutes. In 1986, Whistler added the Peak chairlift, moving skiers quickly to the alpine terrain at the top. When Blackcomb adding high speed quad chairs, Whistler added the Whistler Express Gondola which lifts passengers 1,157 metres vertically along its 5 kilometre length. In 1992, the Glacier Express opened, rising from the bottom of Glacier Creek to the Horstman Glacier. In 1996, the Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation was bought out by Intrawest, which had owned Blackcomb since 1986, and the two resorts were combined into one.
Whistler Mountain has added a summer mountain bike park using the Fitzsimmons and Garbanzo quad chairlifts, ands the Village Gondola to shuttle bikers to around midstation, at 1,200m (4,800). In the summer, the two high speed quad chairlifts at the bike park have every second chair replaced with a bike rack. Riders can enjoy 36 trails covering a total of 200 km. For beginners, there are smooth trails with gentle banked corners, for intermediate mountain bikers there are steep twisty trails for intermediates, while advanced and competitive biker racers can test their skills on tight trails with giant jumps, drops, and root-strewn terrain. The bike park has two zones. The lower Fitzsimmons zone has easier trails and the upper Garbanzo zone for expert riders. From the top of Garbanzo to the village riders drop an impressive 1100 metres. At the base of Blackcomb is the Magic Park with two downhill trails designed for beginners with forgiving wide and smooth trails.
Parking in Whistler
Metered and limited time parking are strictly enforced in the village lots and streets. There is surface parking at the Conference Centre, and underground parkade at the Conference Centre, and meters on municipal streets. Other lots in the community are privately operated and patrolled for violations.
The day skier parking lots are free, and operated by Whistler-Blackcomb. No overnight camping is allowed in any of the lots. There is overnight parking for visitors on overnight or multi-day hikes in Garibaldi Park (Singing Pass) is available in Lot 4 by the signs. Those parked overnight anywhere else in the day lots will be towed.
Winter parking regulations are in effect November 1 through March 31, so enable snowplows to clear the subdivisions. Parking on the “even” side of the street is prohibited Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is no parking on the “odd” side of the street at any time, year round. Illegally parked vehicles will be ticketed and towed.
Annual festivals & events
|Celebrate Live in Whistler||mid Feb||Featuring an upbeat outdoor showcase of artists whose music and style reflect the youthful energy, diverse cultures and distinctive flavours of Canada. various venues around Whislter|
|Snow Sculpting Exhibition||late Feb||Feeturing the Canadian National Snow Sculpture Team alongside the most talented teams from the Yukon, Quebec, Alaska and Manitoba. Whistler Arts Council|
|TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival||end Apr||Arguably Whistler’s most anticipated annual event is a mix of arts and sports events. As for sports, well, there’s the World Backcountry Freeride Jam (ski mountaineering championships), the Old Spice Snowboarding Classic, World Skiing Invitational, a skate zone and bike trials. Whistler & Blackcomb 604-904-8134|
|Big Dawg Shoot Out||mid April||Welcome to the home of the BigDawg Shootout. If you like deep snow, big mountains, 300 hp snowmobiles then you’ve come to the right place. Hill drags, a free ride, hill climb competition & a barbecue on the hill. Rutherford Turn Off, Pemberton 604-894-6175|
|Spring Dine & Unwind||May & June||Dine & Unwind offers guests fixed menu pricing at many of Whistler’s best restaurants. This year’s event will also include specials at Whistler’s spas. Various Restaurants, Whistler 888-869-2777|
|Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival||mid Aug||almost 200 people chase the rolling cheese down the hill, Started 2008 Canadian Cheese Council|
|Cornucopia||mid Nov||Whistler’s 5 day celebration of food and wine sees an influx of top chefs, sommeliers, vintners and restaurateurs. Top restaurants and 75 wineries participate TELUS Whistler Conference Centre, 604-938-3399|
|Whistler Film Festival||early Dec||Whistler Film Festival Society’s main annual event. More than 90 films are shown over the course of four days – most of them are Canadian, but other countries are represented as well. Short films screened free at Skier’s Plaza Village 8 Cinemasand MY Millennium Place 604) 938-3238|
|Squamish Aboriginal Cultural Festival||late May||Come share your culture in a festive celebration of indigenous music, food, dance, arts & crafts. Food & drinks will be freely provided to presenting artists. We invite everyone to honour & enjoy the stories, poems, songs, dances & drumming. Squamish Adventure Centre, Squamish 604-605-3100|
|Whistler Children’s Art Festival||mid July||This festival brings together emerging and professional artists, artisans and performers to share their skills with Whistler kids and families. The outdoor festival features a multitude of arts and crafts workshops, wild main stage performances, zany roving characters and free activities. Whistler Arts Council|
|Whistler ArtWalk||July & Aug||Artists from Lions Bay to Lillooet showcase painting, photography, glass, ceramics and jewellery in 26 participating cafes, retail stores, hotels, commercial galleries, restaurants and businesses in Whistler Village. various galleries around Whister VillageWhistler Arts Council|
|Whistler Dragon Boat Festival||early July||Join this weekend with spectacular scenery and beating drums, fierce paddling, cheering spectators & live entertainment. Alta Lake, Whistler 604-602-7505|
|Campground ‘C’ Country-Rock Festival||late August||Campground ‘C’ promises to bring you the Country-Rock Artists you want to see, the ultimate Country-Rock experience Whistler style. Check website for this years’ artists. Whistler Driving Range, Whistler 604-715-7114|
|Pemberton Christmas in the Park||Dec||Meet Santa, enjoy hot chocolate, treats & festive entertainment. Pioneer Park, Pemberton 604-894-6477|
|Whistler Winter Arts Festival||Feb-Mar||A showcase of the performing arts, literary events, film screenings, snow sculpting, art exhibitions, outdoor stage and street performances in support of the 2010 Olympic & Paralympics Winter Games. Whistler Arts Council 604.935.8232|
|Whistler Music Festival||late July||Two incredible days of music on Blackcomb Mountain with top acts.|
|Kokanee Crankworx||mid Aug||The most ground-breaking gravity fueled mountain bike festival in the history of all things badass. Nine action packed days featuring the sport’s most fearless and talented athletes. A war for freeride glory in the only coliseum qualified for such prestige – the air and stunt infused dirt of the world famous Whistler Bike Park. Whistler Bike Park.|
|Squamish Mountain Festival||mid August||Film, clinics, workshops, celebrations on the rock. Various Locations, Squamish 604-892-2099|
|Whistler First Night||Dec 31||Patterned after the international “First Night” model, this is an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration with lots of live music on an outdoor stage and a number of indoor arts-related events at the TELUS Conference Centre. The kids’ zone has lots of fun performances (magicians, jugglers, clowns) and plenty of arts and crafts. Village Stroll & Telus Conference Centre 604-938-3399|
|Copper & Fire Celebrating Mining & the Arts||early August||Celebrating Mining & the Arts. The BC Museum’s signature event will showcase dynamic earth’s treasures through interactive exhibits art demonstrations including copper sculpting, glass shaping, pottery, jewelry making, blacksmithing. All activities requiring fire or metal to create fine treasures. British Columbia Museum Of Mining, Britannia Beach 604-896-2233|
|Pemberton Country Fair||late Sept||The Pemberton Country Fair features vendors & live music throughout the day. View items for sale including local arts, crafts, baking & garden produce. Free admission. Pemberton Museum, PembertonPemberton Womens Institute 604-894-6580|
|Annual Squamish Days Logger Sports Festival||End July||This 5-day community festival has events for the whole family. There is music, dancing, children’s events, parade, 10 km run, pancake breakfast, bed races & the premier Loggers Sports Show in North America. Since1957. Various Locations, Squamish 604-815-4994|
|WinterPRIDE Whistler||early Feb||One of the biggest and best gay ski events in the world! The TELUS Whistler Conference Centre serves as home base and information central. The week includes a wide range of culinary and athletic events, numerous parties and group excursions, and a whole lot of fun. various venues around Whislter|
|Canadian National BBQ Championships||end July||The highlight of the Pacific Northwest’s competitive BBQ circuit & a draw qualifier event for the American Royal World Championships in Kansas City, as well as, the Jack Daniel’s World Championship BBQ event in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Dusty’s Bar & BBQ, Whistler 604-905-2146|
|Cheakamus Challenge||late Sept||The Cheakamus Challenge annual fall classic mountain bike race course covers over 72 km & features over 2000 vertical metres of climbing. Following the race (which ends in Whistler) is the Awards Party at the Brewhouse. Squamish Airport. Squamish 604-938-1799|